Teenage computer hackers often find it easy to fly below the parental radar. Adults are generally not sophisticated when it comes to computer hacking, but there are a few things parents need to know.
Society has come a long way from the early days of internet technology. Smart teens, then as now, figured out how to worm their way into supposedly secure online areas. In the beginning, their fun was reasonably harmless. Juvenile hacking behavior fell under the kids-will-be-kids category. Most teens confined their activities to pirating software or pranking other teens.
Parents can look for warning signals
When they first learn how to hack, teens may target friends or family members. Parents believe using passwords and blocking websites will protect teens from illicit material or online predators. They have no idea that even simple hacking can cause trouble. A teenager was charged with 14 felonies for hacking into his school's computer system and changing a few grades.
If a teen brags about hacking or reveals private knowledge gleaned from a parent's protected email or social media accounts, the teenager is waving a red flag. While their child is away from home, a parent can take every computer in the house to a professional computer business, and ask them to scan for signs of hacking activity, multiple hidden social media accounts, and unusually high data encryption placement. Teen hackers like to engage in hacking wars. They not only develop strong hacking skills but they also install elaborate encryption safeguards to prevent other hackers from gaining access to their home computers.
When teens get charged with hacking crimes
The first evidence some parents receive about their teenager's illegal activity comes from state or federal authorities. According to the International Journal of Cybersecurity Intelligence & Cybercrime, hacking causes the national economy to lose over $100 billion each year. A 15-year-old hacked into the International Space Station and downloaded code that controlled its operation, forcing NASA to shut down their entire computer system. A 16-year-old hacked into a North Korean nuclear facility and nearly caused an international blowup between the United States and the North Korean government.
All states have computer crime statutes; some teen hackers violate federal cybercrime laws and incur correspondingly severe penalties which may limit future work or school opportunities. Teens are not adults, yet their young age will not protect them when it comes to computer crime. If a parent suspects or discovers signs of hacking, help is necessary and available. Preventive consultation can be an excellent plan. Involve your teen in the meeting, so that he or she understands hacking is a one-way ticket across dangerously shaky ground.
If a teen has been charged with a cyber crime, he or she needs strong and effective representation by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.